Hey. what’s another ridiculous ObamaCare promise on top of all the others that have collapsed? MSNBC analyst Goldie Taylor embodied the magical thinking behind the ACA as cost-saving reform by telling Al Sharpton that the law will make American marriages happier because it will save money, which is the biggest driver of divorces, which means that Democrats are the “party of families.”
Yeah, it doesn’t really get any more coherent than that:
Actually, Andrew Johnson highlights an argument from Tom Blumer showing that the incentives built into the law promote divorce:
To illustrate, let’s start with the 60-year-old married couple with no children …
If they have identical earnings totaling $65,000, which will usually net down to $50,000 or below after all income and payroll taxes, their Obamacare exchange Silver Plan premium next year with the same earnings will be $16,382, or about one-third of what used to be their take-home pay. (And they call it the “Affordable Care Act”?)
What can this couple do? Well, they could decide to earn a few thousand dollars less, which will negate the five-figure premium hit. Encouraging ordinarily willing workers to put in less effort isn’t good in any economy, but especially not this one. But if either spouse’s earnings are unpredictable or hard to precisely track, they could still “mess up” and get socked with a premium they can’t afford.
The “easiest” solution would be to avoid the “wedding tax” entirely by getting divorced while still living together. … Instead of facing an exorbitant premium increase once their combined earnings hits $62,041 if they were to stay married, each cohabiting adult can earn up to $45,960 before Obamacare’s “tax credit”-free premiums kick in. Their annual after-tax savings at age 60 if they shack up and keep their individual earnings between $31,021 and $45,960 will range from $7,650 to over $11,000. The annual savings will slightly increase every year until Medicare kicks in at age 65. That kind of money can buy a lot of gifts for the grandkids.
This is the difference between magical thinking and actually understanding economic incentives. Also, let’s not forget that the subsidies that some Americans will receive through the exchanges means that the costs are actually going lower. The sharp increase in premiums makes it very clear that costs are skyrocketing. The subsidies only screen those cost increases for a percentage of Americans, but the subsidies will come in large part from taxes that everyone will have to pay, directly or indirectly. Furthermore, with deductibles also rising sharply, more of those costs will be borne by the consumers rather than the insurers, so that the insurers can take on the higher-risk customers forced on them by the law.
What happens when younger and healthier Americans have to start paying exorbitant premiums to get essentially no coverage when their access doesn’t exceed their deductibles? Call me crazy, but I’d say that will impede their abilities to get married, start families, and buy homes and cars.
Update: The argument came from Tom Blumer at PJM and BizzyBlog, whom I linked but failed to properly mention. I’ve kinda-sorta fixed the reference above, but it’s now clear that this was Tom’s argument.